September 5: Seen that movie

Terror attacks in the West Bank show peace talks are doomed to failure; rabbis who order corporal punishment should be put in jail

Spoiling the party
Sir, – The slaughter of four Israelis, one pregnant, in Kiryat Arba underscores the fact that the current peace talks – even if they should conclude with a concordance – are doomed to practical failure.
The murderous tentacles of Hamas reach even the settlements in Judea and Samaria. Mr.
Abbas, whose term of office expired in January, 2009, does not speak for those 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. More important, he and his Fatah forces are incapable of reining in Hamas terror in his own backyard.
And that is the 800-pound gorilla sitting in the corner in Washington.
It goes without saying that Mr. Abbas is impotent in the face of terrorism emanating from Gaza.
(Indeed, he cannot even walk its streets.) Even the American-trained and -armed PA security forces, backed by Fatah’s own murderous Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, could not stop this quadruple murder or the terrorist attack at Rimonim Junction, also by Hamas.
Hamas has thus announced where it stands on the peace talks and what Mr. Abbas can do with intentions.
Add two recent developments: First is Hamas’s success in developing the Fajar-5 rocket, whose range reaches beyond Tel Aviv. It is only a matter of time before the Fajar-5 is deployed in Judea and Samaria. Second is the discovery of caches in the Sinai of shoulder-launched rockets.
What assurance can Abbas provide that planes from Ben- Gurion Airport will not be shot out of the sky by his fellow Palestinians? None.
Accordingly, it is evident that Prime Minister Netanyahu cannot make peace with half of the Palestinians. Only the realitychallenged think that a peace agreement with President Abbas will be the end of it.
ALAN B. KATZ Melville, NY
Seen that movie
Sir, – “An attempt to torpedo the talks” (September 1) could have been written at any of the previous summit meetings.
The State of Israel is apparently doomed forever to believe that this time, this conference, this new president, will bring us peace. This time we won’t get beaten up or murdered. And it doesn’t work.
The same phrases are trotted out each time things go wrong and our citizens are murdered.
We’ve seen this movie at least three times, so we know how it ends. It ends with slaughter.
Seven more children were orphaned. Another couple was wounded in their car.
When will we finally have the nerve to say, “Enough!” When the Palestinians are ready to make peace, when they stop all their incitement and glorification of terrorists, when they stop demanding more and more of our land, when they arrest the killers (we hear they arrested 300 people; how many will be released by tomorrow?) – then we will be ready to talk.
Behavior (and border) modification
Sir, – From the Israeli perspective, security is a prime factor in being able to establish a lasting peace with Palestinians, many of whom swear eternal enmity towards Israelis.
I suggest that any peace agreement include a codicil whereby whenever either side causes intentional loss of life to the other side, they will cede a predetermined amount of land to the country victimized by the terrorism.
Methinks Hamas would think twice realizing that each terrorist act will diminish the Palestinian territory.
ALBERT MUNITZ Savannah, Georgia
You’re only president
Sir, – Reading “WJC vows to stand by Israel” (September 1) reminds me of two admirable things about president Yitzhak Navon: He always had a real message when he made a speech and, second, he did not act as though he had the people’s mandate to recommend political action and policies on their behalf.
I do not recall that I, or anyone else, voted for President Shimon Peres to run the country or to set out political goals for the government.
Whether the Israeli government should or should not build in the Jerusalem suburbs, whether Israel should encourage the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel – these are topics for our elected representatives to decide.
Our president should know his limits. It is not his job to urge his political opinions publicly on the populace or on the government, but that is not the impression one gets from reading the above article.
Who is fit to lead?
Sir, – I would like to commend Rabbi Stewart Weiss’s article (“Who counts in Judaism?,” August 31) for spelling out the plainly obvious – it is not for the individual to play God by judging others for their spiritual performance.
Rather, each Jew, at the very least when coming to pray, should be awarded the respect in shul to do just that – pray, and in an environment of warmth and kinship.
Nonetheless, Rabbi Weiss has erred on a key technicality. Certainly it is true that the synagogue is an appropriate place to draw sinners close; but should they be the ones to lead our prayers or aid in the quorum’s lofty task of summoning the Divine Presence?
YONATAN BOOKMAN Glasgow, Scotland
Absurd situation
Sir, – We continue to reject any call to extend the settlement construction freeze. “The settlements are an issue... to be discussed in the negotiations themselves,” states the prime minister (“PM won’t discuss construction freeze before negotiations,”August 29).
The situation is downright absurd. In the Internet site of our Israeli Foreign Ministry we officially state: “The West Bank and Gaza Strip are disputed territories whose status can only be determined through negotiations.”
If, indeed, the territories are “disputed” pending negotiation, what could possibly be more plausible than to halt any activity that might change the character of the disputed territory during the period of negotiation – in other words, not to change the facts on the ground while the issue is being negotiated? Our refusal to obey such elementary rules of good faith suggests that we have no intention to leave the West Bank. This suspicion is supported by the incredible investments that have been made there without halt, for decades.
The inevitable conclusion must be that all talk about two states and an amiable solution of the conflict is mere eyewash.
Lock up the lashers
Sir, – If a religious court in Israel actually has legal authority to order corporal punishment (‘“Sinner’ singer given 39 lashes by rabbis,” August 27), then the law should be changed.
If it doesn’t have such authority and the sentence was really carried out as reported, then the judges should be locked up.
Security ignorance
Sir, – Having lived in Israel during the time of the bus bombings, I feel that to criticize the security barrier is to be ignorant of the situation and what could happen without it.
I lived in the West Bank and have seen the local Arabs walking across the border almost in sight of the check points. I was once in a taxi, when seeing the line of traffic at a check point between Ramallah and Jerusalem, the driver drove up though the houses across open ground, back onto the road and on in to Jerusalem.
Without this barrier, it was impossible to prevent suicide bombers from completing their mission.
Hamilton, New Zealand